Realty Check: What It's Like to Live in an Evans Woollen House

Joe Shoemaker would know. The Realtor illustrates the quirks of a Woollen design through his latest listing.

Architecturally stunning, this four-bedroom home on the northeast side has been the subject of gushing blog posts on and the popular U.K.-based blog WowHaus. According to Realtor Joe Shoemaker of Encore Sotheby’s International Realty, the listing’s web traffic went off the charts, with 10,000 virtual tour views in two weeks. Yet the house remained on the market for a couple of months. “In Chicago, it would have been a whole other game,” Shoemaker says. Perhaps house hunters here see more of a renovation headache than a forever home with design cred. They aren’t completely wrong, but they might be surprised.
 1. Roof. The house is surrounded by trees, so the owners are going to find themselves frequently cleaning off debris and checking for any damage. “That’s just part of the price one pays to live in a work of art,” says Shoemaker.
 2. Great Room. Forming the front of the house, those two-story, original single-pane windows—an obvious threat of high utility bills—face south. In the summer, the trees provide enough shade to tone down any glare. In the winter, when sunshine is needed most, there’s major solar gain.
 Evans Woollen3. Original Kitchen. “It has a low ceiling and it’s very compact. Cozy,” says Shoemaker. “Compared to that two-story great room, it’s much more human-scale. The behemoth fridge, though, has to go.”
4. Furnishings. Surprisingly, the original homeowners decorated with velvety upholstery and traditional chairs. If one follows the MCM purist’s mantra, a home becomes a gallery. “A lot of people enjoy gallery homes, but can’t envision living in one,” says Shoemaker.
5. Front Door. It’s somewhat hidden in the glass wall. For day to day, the owner would use the back door.
6. Spiral Staircase. Shoemaker favors blasting and repainting the stairs and balcony handrail to the original black.
7. Parking. No garage, but there is space to build one. “I’m pissing off all my preservationist friends when I say this, but if it were me, I’d spend $150K and build a three-car garage and gut the master bedroom, bath, and the kitchen,” says Shoemaker.
Evans Woollen 8. Floor. Sit back and enjoy. The white, flecked terrazzo tiled floors have been beautifully refinished.
 9. Yard. The house overlooks over another wooded lot that can never be developed, so it feels like you have six acres, even though you only had to pay for 1.45.
Editor’s note: The house, listed at $400,000, sold after press time. For more Shoemaker listings, including other midcentury-modern landmarks, click here.